Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Leapfrogging with Open Source Nanotech?

WorldChanging posted an interesting article on Nanotech futures in the developing world, Nanotechnology and the South-South Divide.

Hassan argues that the pace and pattern of nanoscience and nanotech research in the developing world increasingly mirrors that in the North, and that there are good reasons to believe that significant breakthroughs could come from laboratories in the developing world. As noted, China spends a very large amount of money on nanotech research (perhaps as much as $600 million total between 2003 and 2007), and India, Brazil, South Africa and a variety of other less-developed nations are also funding nanoscience relatively well. Hassan argues that this reflects both a recognition of nanotechnology's potentially critical role in developmental leapfrogging and an embrace of the larger notion that science is a fundamental engine of development.

The article raises some interesting ideas on how to ensure that the benefits of nanotech innovation in 'The South' serves indigenous needs and not just market whims of 'The North'.
The Tropical Disease Initiative can be a model here: an open effort by biomedical specialists, often in the employ of commercial firms, to discover and deploy treatments for the kinds of diseases afflicting those regions least able to pay for cutting-edge pharmaceuticals.

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